David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

Five years later

There's bound to be a lot of thoughtful reaction on this five-year anniversary, and somber memory. I think the best somber, reflective artistic response is still John M. Ford's "110 Stories" (yes, John M. Ford of Growing Up Weightless and How Much For Just the Planet), and I offer it in that spirit. And somber reflection has its place. But here's something else that has its place: it's been five years, and I'm still angry.

I don't think I got angry right away, which is odd. I think I went into professional mode: how would the recovery be done, what would be needed, that sort of thing. Some people I know, and some people I didn't know then but met later, were called up to work the forensic aspect of the recovery. Some worked Ground Zero; others worked the site of the Flight 93 crash. The biggest task for forensic anthropologists at Ground Zero, if you're curious, turned out to be zooarchaeological triage. There were a lot of restaurants in the World Trade Center. That's a lot of steaks and chicken bones to be sorted out, so time wasn't spent doing DNA testing of somebody's lunch. (DNA didn't work out all that well, logistically. Oh, it worked great as an identifier, all right -- but what do you do when somebody's been buried six months, and you keep finding and positively identifying human remains? This became a real issue, and a lot of people wound up opting out of the continued notification. Bad enough to be a widow in wartime; worse when you never know when the phone may ring with a message that somebody's found another piece of your husband.)

I think I first realized that I was angry, really angry, a day or two later. A classmate of mine -- not an idiot, mind you; an intelligent, articulate, woman -- actually *defended the people who danced in the street to celebrate the collapse of the World Trade Center,* on the grounds that "they didn't realize people were in the building." My jaw seriously dropped for a good five seconds before I bellowed, "BULLSHIT." They knew, of course. That was why they were dancing; that was the appeal.

The anger is still there, and it bubbles up every now and then. I don't write about it much because that's not what I keep an LJ for; I like fannishness and interesting articles and a little interaction, and if I can help it I don't like to be emotional in a public forum. But now, five years out, when we're weary of burdens and of war and of bitterly snapping at each other over what we ought to do now, or do next, we should remember a little bit of anger. Because there are people who dance in the street to celebrate murder, and we'll have to deal with them, and with the jihadists themselves, in administrations beyond this one. We may face it in a different way in the future, but we'll still have to face it. And a somber and reflective attitude, on its own, probably isn't going to be enough.

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